Table tennis players come in all shapes and sizes. Table tennis is not a sport that relies on players possessing certain physiological traits such as height in basketball or weight in sumo wrestling.
However, from looking at top table tennis players’ it is clear they many have a very similar build. Elite table tennis players are generally of athletic build. They don’t look like power lifters but at the same time most of them aren’t that skinny either.
I have found height and weight information on the top 50 table tennis players in the world (as of 4th September 2012) and I have created body mass indexes (BMI’s) for them too. In this article I will be highlighting the players at the extreme ends of the scale and providing some recommendations for table tennis players based on the averages from these top players.
Before I start it’s probably worth saying that the information in this article was taken from the players London 2012 profiles or Wikipedia and may or may not be completely accurate. Heights are unlikely to change but weight changes all the time so take this data as rough figures.
I’m going to start off by looking at height and show you the tallest and shortest top table tennis players. The tallest is Alexander Shibaev (#31) who is 1.94m. He is followed by Kirill Skachkov (#44) at 1.91m and Vladimir Samsonov (#15) at 1.89m. The shortest player is Koki Niwa (#18) who is just 1.62m. Second shortest is Chuang Chih-Yuan (#8) at 1.67m and third is Seiya Kishikawa (#23) at 1.68m. You can watch a video of Shibaev vs Niwa below.
The average height of table tennis players in the world top 50 was 1.79m (which is coincidentally also my height) and the range of heights within one standard deviation of the mean was 1.72m to 1.86m. So there is quite a range of heights in top-level table tennis but then again you can’t change your height, so I guess this is to be expected.
Something that is within players control is their weight and this is what I am going to focus on now. However, take weight out of the context of height and it is irrelevant. To counter this I have taken the time to work out each players BMI and I will use this to comment and compare.
Eight of the top 50 table tennis players are ‘technically overweight’ (have a BMI greater than 25), although I don’t give this much thought for sportspeople because BMI does not take muscle into account. If you were to calculate the BMI’s for top rugby players they would probably all be ‘obese’ despite being in great shape and extremely fit. Anyway, for the record the three players with the highest BMI are Patrick Baum (#25) 26.37, Jian Zhan (#31) 26.09 and Jens Lundqvist (#50) 25.95.
None of the players were ‘underweight’ (have a BMI less than 18.5). The three players with the lowest BMI’s were Koki Niwa (#18) 19.43, Alexander Shibaev (#31) 20.46 and Xu Xin (#3) 20.49. It was interesting to see the shortest and tallest players having the lowest BMI!
The average BMI of these elite table tennis players was 23.02. With the common range being between 21.25 and 24.80. You may be asking “so what?”, and so was I. Then I thought could we use this data to create some broad recommendations for all table tennis players?
I have created the table you see below as a rough guideline for amateur table tennis players, based on the information I collected from the top players. You may find it useful.
I hope it’s pretty straightforward to use. As I mentioned earlier, I am 1.79m. I only did this table for every 2cm as otherwise it would have been too big but I should be able to workout where I should be. The ‘ideal’ weight for a player of my height would be the mean which is around 73.75kg . I’m unlikely to be exactly this weight but I should try to be somewhere between the range scores which are 68-79kg. I am currently only about 65kg, so I am slightly outside the range on the table. On average, top table tennis players weigh more than me.
You may find that useful, you may not. It’s not exact but I think it should give you a rough guideline of where your weight should be and the ranges are quite wide.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that, in general, table tennis players have quite low levels of fat. It would be no good for me to pile on 8kg of fat and then sit back smug thinking I’m now at my ‘ideal’ table tennis weight. I will be covering fitness and strength training for table tennis in future blog posts, so keep an eye out for those.
I hope that was helpful. Please leave me a comment and let me know what you thought. How close are you to your ‘ideal’ table tennis weight?